Graduate Student Campus Climate Studies
The Office of Graduate and Professional Studies regularly facilitates an assessment of the graduate student campus climate, based on the directives of the Texas A&M University Diversity Plan (Office of the Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity, 2009) and goals identified in Vision 2020: Creating a Culture of Excellence (Vision 2020). The University Diversity Plan comprises three elements: accountability, climate, and equity.
At Texas A&M University, “we routinely assess the climate to understand how the climate is perceived and experienced by faculty, administrators, staff, and students.” (diversity.tamu.edu) The primary purpose of the graduate student campus climate assessment is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the experiences and perspectives that graduate students share during their time at Texas A&M University. In response, the University can generate activities that contribute to a climate of understanding, respect, acceptance, and teamwork.
The Graduate Student Campus Climate Survey allows Texas A&M to make decisions in a fact-based context, and will allow stakeholder satisfaction to steer the university toward the goal of accountability, climate and equity.
Texas A&M University performed two surveys so far, in 2012 and 2016. See details below.
Spring 2012 Survey
In the spring of 2012, the Texas A&M Office of Graduate and Professional Studies partnered with the Graduate Student Campus Climate Guiding Committee to facilitate the first assessment of university-wide graduate student campus climate. All master’s and doctoral students (College Station campus) were invited to take the survey, and a total of 1,410 (15.5%) students responded.
The survey results helped identify both strengths and challenges related to graduate student campus climate, including four issues that were considered high priority:
- Overall campus climate for underrepresented graduate students
- Institutional commitment to and perceived value of diversity
- Instances of incivility and inappropriate behavior, and
- Quality of life concerns
These issues were studied in-depth and recommendations were made for improvement, with input from various graduate student groups across campus.
Overall, results of the campus climate study were positive, with 74% agreed they felt prepared for the future career, 75% reporting that they were satisfied with their academic department, and 81% agreed that they were glad to have attended Texas A&M. Re-assessments will be made every three years, to ensure that recommendations and policy changes will have the desired results. Though the current survey makes strides towards the ideal, only with the lasting commitment of the entire campus community will Texas A&M succeed in attaining an optimal campus climate welcoming and respectful to all.
Spring 2016 Survey
In the spring of 2016, the Texas A&M Office of Graduate and Professional Studies partnered with the Graduate Student Campus Climate Guiding Committee to facilitate the second assessment of university-wide graduate student campus climate. All master’s and doctoral students (College Station campus) were invited to take the survey and a total of 1,532 (12%) of enrolled graduate students responded. The 2016 survey results helped identify strengths and challenges related to graduate student campus climate, including:
- Continue to promote a visible institutional commitment to and valuing of diversity.
- Continue efforts to track data to assess institutional commitment at all levels, from the top levels of administration to faculty, staff and all students.
- Increase cross-cultural activities and programming to educate faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students about differences, help individuals understand the value of diversity, foster respectful intercommunication and dialogue, and encourage higher and deeper levels of interaction.
- Enhance efforts to increase enrollment of graduate students and faculty from historically underrepresented groups.
- Heighten collaborations with the B/CS community to decrease occurrences of inappropriate behaviors
The 2016 survey also revealed additional areas to prioritize, including
- Climate issues at the university level
- A healthy climate for academic pursuit
- Pregnancy and parenting accommodations
Overall, the results of the campus climate study were positive. 93% of respondents were glad to have attended Texas A&M University. 74% of respondents agreed that graduate students are committed to diversity. Yet areas for improvement exist. A little more than half (56%) of respondents agreed that their academic department is committed to diversity. And 30% of respondents experienced inappropriate behavior or acts of incivility.
Texas A&M will continue making strides toward the ideal. With the lasting commitment of the entire campus community, Texas A&M will succeed in attaining an optimal campus climate welcoming and respectful to all.